Thursday, June 29, 2006

UFO buffs say official denial 'alien to us'

SHEFFIELD, England (Reuters) -- Last month, the British Ministry of Defence made public a top secret report on UFOs, concluding that three decades of sightings had failed to produce evidence of visiting extraterrestrials.

Case closed for alien aficionados? Not so.

Far from alleviating UFO buffs' suspicions that governments are concealing what they know, the report has intensified them.

"I just e-mailed the MoD explaining my disgust at their latest UFO report," an Internet UFO forum member wrote, saying the Ministry was in denial.  Click below to read more at CNN.

UFO buffs say official denial 'alien to us'

Check out, or purchase The New Users Computer Security Guide by clicking here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

FreeNode was Hijacked here is freenodes response.

Read about it here:
In response Freenode called their users to a channel called #freenode-moderated  The log explaining the situation plus Freenodes stand and guidelines etc. is below. 867 people who flocked to Freenode took advantage of the question and answer session held in this channel.  It was nice of them to hold this chat session, but isnt it overkill? Wouldn't a page on their website servered their chat users better?
[11:22pm:46] <@HedgeMage> Last night, one of freenode's servers was compromised, and an intruder was able to cause various forms of havoc, including klining many users and staff.
[11:23pm:30] <@HedgeMage> We are currently investigating our security situation, and cannot give out any technical details until our investigation is complete.
[11:24pm:42] <Astinus> * For server, one may substitute "staffer account".
[11:25pm:20] <@HedgeMage> We believe that <25 nickserv passwords were compromised during a limited window, but all concerned individuals are encouraged to change their nickserv passwords just in case.
[11:26pm:42] <@HedgeMage> We'll open up the floor for questions, one at a time, in a moment.  Please keep your question concise, and type it ahead of time so we can move as quickly as is practical.
[11:27pm:51] <+alex323> Are the passwords in the services databases encrypted and/or hashed? What steps are you doing to prevent such an event from occurring again?
[11:28pm:13] <+alex323> Are proper Q:lines in place to prevent users from spoofing services nicks?
[11:29pm:11] <+alex323> In the event that this needs to be reported to a higher authority, what should we say
[11:29pm:32] <+alex323> What kinds of investigations are going on?
[11:29pm:49] <@HedgeMage> Passwords are stored as hashes, and we will have more information on specific new security measures as they are implimented.
[11:29pm:51] <+alex323> What are the consequences for those found responsible?
[11:30pm:01] <@HedgeMage> alex323: I asked for concise, please.
[11:30pm:05] <@HedgeMage> Others will want turns, too
[11:30pm:10] <+alex323> Understood.
[11:30pm:25] <Astinus> We'll answer those questions, then move on. Thanks alex323
[11:30pm:53] <@HedgeMage> q-lines are in place, but this intruder could have overriden them.
[11:31pm:51] <@HedgeMage> I'm not going to itemize security evaluations that are still in progress, as that would compromise our work.
[11:32pm:37] <@HedgeMage> Regularly changing your nickserv/chanserv pw is a good security practice, and something you can do to help your channel and nick remain secure.
[11:33pm:42] <+emes> Is there any credibility to the claims that hackers from EFNet were responsible?
[11:33pm:43] <@HedgeMage> emes: are you ready?
[11:35pm:26] <@HedgeMage> We are not releasing our suspect list, but we have some reasons to expect that bantown or GNAA may have been involved.
[11:36pm:08] <+taoist> DCC SEND welcome-our-new-gnaa-overlords 0 0 0
[11:36pm:10] <+taoist> Thank you.  Now that the sale of Freenode to the GNAA is complete, what new changes can we expect to see?
Lots of parts, and then joins.
[11:37pm:18] <Astinus> Sorry about that folks, even more indication that muppets from the GNAA might be involved ;)
[11:37pm:38] <Astinus> Can people please have their questions typed and ready, so that when voiced, things move faster?
[11:39pm:11] <@HedgeMage> next?
[11:39pm:12] <+aka_druid> oh, I wanted to ask about the passwords being compromised, if youa re goin to put in some announcement
[11:39pm:45] <+Naconkantari> Is this type of attack over for now, or can we expect more in the future?
[11:40pm:57] <@HedgeMage> We believe this attack to be over, but future attacks are always possible...
[11:41pm:23] <+Mark_Ryan> For those of us who aren't intimately aware of the workings of IRC servers, is there a way we can identify to ChanServ that doesn't involve an /msg? Can we use the server password field? Or an /identify server-side alias?
[11:41pm:55] <Astinus> Mark_Ryan: Provide your password upon connect, it'll be securely passed to NickServ
[11:42pm:35] <Astinus> Mark_Ryan: Also, /quote NickServ is an alternative to /msg. It'll more ably handle Services being down/spoofed.
[11:42pm:39] <Rez> also, /ns and /cs are server commands (may need to be prefixed by quote, ie /quote ns) that direct commands to them
[11:43pm:34] <+Ziggy> Did the so-called "hackers" have access to the filesystem? Is it possible they downloaded any services data? People with dictionary passwords might be interested, even if it is hashed.
[11:45pm:55] <@HedgeMage> Our hashes are salted MD5, rainbow tables won't work... it would be very CPU intensive to attack each one, even if the whole thing were compromised (which, at this time, we don't think is the case)
[11:45pm:59] <@HedgeMage> We again remind you that you can help yourself by regularly changing passwords
[11:46pm:24] <+Tompkins> What evidence - besides the events that took place right now - do you have against the GNAA?
[11:47pm:28] <@HedgeMage> We're not releasing any information about the results of forensic examination or other investigations, whether that data implicates or exonerates the GNAA.
[11:49pm:36] <Astinus> trelane: Got a question? :)
[11:49pm:48] <+trelane> no dunno why I was voiced I'm busy elsewhere, sorry
[11:50pm:02] <Astinus> That was unexpected, he had /msg'd me :)
[11:50pm:20] <+nenolod> ok, two questions:
[11:50pm:21] <+nenolod> m_services.c says:
[11:50pm:21] <+nenolod>   if (IsHoneypot(sptr) || !(acptr = find_person(NICKSERV, NULL)))
[11:50pm:21] <+nenolod> so does /quote NickServ really provide any real protection?
[11:50pm:23] <+nenolod> and
[11:50pm:44] <+nenolod> bantown says they are sniffing packets at a place where a freenode server is located, any comment on this would be nice :)
[11:51pm:47] <Astinus> nenolod: We don't believe (at this time) that bantown is capable of sniffing traffic from any of our sponsors. Its possible they're upstream somewhat, but OSUOSL (our main sponsor) are usually pretty good about network security.
[11:52pm:24] <Astinus> nenolod: Regarding the m_services.c question, I'm not a coder, I had understood /quote NickServ to be more secure but will defer to your superior knowledge on that one :)
[11:52pm:46] <@HedgeMage> My apologies, I had to step out a moment (minor parenting emergency)
[11:52pm:46] <+WhiteNoise> You mention that you believe that < 25 users had their passwords compromised.  How did you arrive at this estimate?  How much confidence should we place in that low a figure?
[11:54pm:21] <@HedgeMage> WhiteNoise: there was a small window between the time that nickserv went down and our servers stopped accepting connections.  While >25 is only an estimate, we are fairly confident that it is accurate.  That said, it is quite easy to change your password so you *know* you are safe.
[11:55pm:03] <@HedgeMage> ack sorry
[11:55pm:06] <@HedgeMage> BAD typo
[11:57pm:04] <+blackmanheartiez> DCC SEND welcome-our-new-gnaa-overlords 0 0 0
[11:57pm:05] <+blackmanheartiez> BYE
[11:57pm:06] <+blackmanheartiez> LOL
[11:57pm:07] <+blackmanheartiez> DCC SEND welcome-our-new-gnaa-overlords 0 0 0
[11:57pm:07] <+blackmanheartiez> DCC SEND welcome-our-new-gnaa-overlords 0 0 0
[11:57pm:19] <Astinus> Sorry about that
[11:57pm:46] <+DosBubba> 'Grats out to the GNAA for their newly acquired property, #chat . /server -m -j #chat Attacks will continue if you don't join.
[11:57pm:46] <+DosBubba> I would like to thank Freenode for taking the time to gather the whole of IRC, it has been our pleasure to take part in such a trolling opportunity.
[11:57pm:48] <+DosBubba> Remember: /server -m -j #chat Attacks will continue if you don't join. !startkeygen
[11:57pm:48] <+DosBubba> IRC was founded on the principles of trolling, and we thank Freenode from the bottom of our hearts for carrying the fine tradition into the 21st century - hopefully beyond.
[11:57pm:48] <+DosBubba> Remember: /server -m -j #chat Attacks will continue if you don't join.
[11:57pm:50] <+DosBubba> IRC was founded on the principles of trolling, and we thank Freenode from the bottom of our hearts for carrying the fine tradition into the 21st century - hopefully beyond.
[11:57pm:53] <+DosBubba> Remember: /server -m -j #chat Attacks will continue if you don't join.
[12:01am:01] <+JapaneseGangster> What are the concequences of this event?  ie. Will access be limited for certain parties?
[12:02am:10] <@HedgeMage> JapaneseGangster: While we can't, right now, comment on security measures that aren't in place yet, we need to assess our vulnerability and whether a crime was committed.  We don't, at this time, have evidence of enough damage for that to be the case.
[12:02am:28] <+nalbright> have you considered opening up an SSL port on the servers to help cut down on sniffing?
[12:03am:41] <@HedgeMage> nalbright: At this time, not all of our servers are dedicated to freenode only, so that is not possible.  We hope to aquire more dedicated servers in the future so we can offer that feature.
[12:04am:06] <+avillia> Two things: 1. What sort of additional fallout has the Slashdot article caused, and 2, What was up with staff members asking for donations via global notice as the attack (+ cleanup) was still happening? Thanks in advance.
[12:04am:09] <+avillia> Also: <GNAA joke/plug>.
[12:05am:12] <@HedgeMage> The slashdot article didn't cause any real fallout until someone told me about it, I read the comments, and annoyed my husband by rolling my eyes at the less intelligent ones.
[12:05am:18] <@HedgeMage> ;)
[12:05am:38] <+Jin> What do you think the motive or purpose of the attack was?
[12:06am:08] <@HedgeMage> As I answered to nalbright's question, we are trying to get more dedicated servers to increase security, asking while security is an issue, we hoped, would be a wake-up for potential donors.
[12:06am:23] <@HedgeMage> Jin: we're still assessing that, and can't comment right now.
[12:07am:37] <@HedgeMage> Re: the notice regarding donations, lilo has asked me to apologize if anyone was offended
[12:08am:04] <@HedgeMage> link?
[12:08am:11] <@HedgeMage> next?
[12:08am:26] <+openbysource> all i want is voice at freenode-social. why don't you guys give us voice on joining freenode-social. why does it take so long for you guys to give us voice. please be fast man. we need to wait sometimes sometimes around more than 3 hours. if you guys are working around with these security issues it's okay but do take care of freenode-social keep that thing going man.please try give us voice as fast as u can don't make it too
[12:08am:26] <+openbysource>  long. take for example right now so many of us in the  queue at freenode-social.
[12:08am:35] * openbysource was kicked by Astinus (Idiot.)
[12:09am:50] <Astinus> SushiGeek: Got a question mate?
[12:10am:19] <+SushiGeek> woah
[12:10am:21] <+SushiGeek> Yes I do
[12:10am:24] * Astinus smiles
[12:10am:34] <+SushiGeek> Are you taking any measures to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the near future?
[12:11am:24] <@HedgeMage> SushiGeek: Thank you for your concern, but as I said before we'll release information on new security measures when possible, as they are implemented.
[12:12am:05] <Astinus> RE: The question about #freenode-social  ::  Its a social channel, not a method of gaining support on the network. We'll voice you when we notice, please don't bug us about it. /stats p or /who freenode/staff/* for contacting people who can help with problems!
[12:12am:17] <@HedgeMage> :) thanks Astinus
[12:12am:19] <+nf> Do you have any reason to believe that there may be an insider providing information to various outside parties, that could be a threat?
[12:13am:02] <@HedgeMage> I'm sorry, nf, but as I've said, discussing our security asessments right now is not prudent.  We're still working on gathering all of the information we can.
[12:13am:18] <+Teratogen> was the FBI contacted and are they participating in the investigation of this incident?
[12:13am:35] <@HedgeMage> see my last answer... can't comment now.
[12:13am:40] <+Teratogen> thanks
[12:13am:54] <Astinus> Guys - please don't ask questions similar to ones previously asked.
[12:14am:05] <@HedgeMage> Since most of these seem to be repeats, we're going to close for now.  I'd like to reiterate that we encourage all concerned users to change passwords
[12:14am:31] <Astinus> We can't comment on matters of security, anything said might taint investigations by any law enforcement authorities in the near future. We are looking into this, we are serious about finding the root cause of this, and we have your security in mind.
[12:15am:05] <Astinus> With that said - now's a good time to change those passwords ;)  We do believe <25 accounts may have had their NickServ account password compromised, change it now - end of problem.
[12:15am:11] <@HedgeMage> Please set /mode yournick +w if you would like to see the announcement when we do this again.
[12:15am:38] <Astinus> This room will go -m shortly, so ya'll can chat before we have another session.
[12:15am:51] <@HedgeMage> try not to get blood on the carpet ;)
[12:16am:02] <Astinus> Or we'll send in the cleaners, with pointy brooms ;)
end of log

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

People are giving up

For years now the spammers have been able to spam without much threat happening to them for their actions.  If control is not in the makings, and the people using email as a means to keep up with business, and home alike.... Soon I feel people will revert back to snail mail, and give up on email all together.  It's just becoming too much of a headache.  You have some businesses that have their own email handlers wasting up to four and five hours per day sorting through it all.  I know of two small businesses so far that have reverted back to snail mail because they could not hire the extra help needed for email. 
There are no clear cut laws, or even software that cuts all of the spam out.  People are giving up. 

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Microsoft Changes WGA Following Spyware Allegations

When I was young ... and I am sure others who read this have heard this saying too. I was taught "if you can't take the heat then stay out of the kitchen".  This is a good saying for Microsoft to embrace.  You can't teach the public to not install a product if its clearly not outlined what all the product does, and you can't tell them they can't opt out if they don't like what the product does.  There is no way.  We need the public and the software industry to embrace the same rules.  Not even a Operating System is above the law. yes you have a Operating System to protect.  But that's all you have to protect.  let the other software makers protect their own property.  You are trying to embrace too much Microsoft.  It's not for you to protect everyone. 
"Privacy is about transparency and choice -- telling the consumer what data you collect, how you collect it, what you do with that data, and whether the consumer can opt out of some of those activities," said Penn. "Microsoft needs to embrace these as guiding principles for all its software and services."

Monday, June 05, 2006

ways of protecting your identity

I am often asked what the surest way to protect your identity online, and on your computer?  Answer: (Some wont like my answer)  Don't go online. Or if this is not possible, restrict the websites and businesses to the amount of information they have on you online and offline.  But still this is no guarantee that your identity will be safe.  Greed and human error causes the most identity thefts.

The most safest of ways is for the Government to restrict access to our personal information.  Plus those that do have access should be forced to protect our information better.  I mean blunt force with the heaviest of fines imposed on those that don't.  Perhaps even the loosing of a license to have our personal information on file is also in order?  In other words you have to pay for a special license in order to have full access to certain information, plus inspections, and so on in order to store our personal information.  If you don't pass inspection then you get no license, and if a surprise inspection is carried out and you fail, if you have these computers networked and online or even local, they must be shut down, or taken off the net, fixed and pass a inspection before you are allowed to go back online.  Plus all of the special licenses are public, so that way a person can check the data base and know exactly what the business can ask for, and have a public record of their inspection.  This will get rid of quite a bit, or all the fraud going on I believe.  Also anyone with access with your personal information should not have a personal license to handle your information if they have been convicted of any crime, or have debts, or any type of lean against them.  They must be in good standing.  This should be across the board in good standing regardless if they are local or political figures, or Government, etc.  They have to be completely biased.  Plus carry their own license in order to run their business handling your personal information. 


I was told this wouldn't work because it was time consuming.  Horse chit! It's our information that we are loosing.  Our lively hoods going down the drain.  We should be protecting it at all cost.